Brewer Magazine Q&A: Leslie Kaczeus, Bootstrap Brewing

This is a part of a continuing series of Q&As with members of the brewing community from across the U.S.
Brewer Magazine will share business and personal insights from Brewmasters, Head Brewers, Brewing Managers, Sales Directors, QCQA Managers, and others each weekend to help you get to know each other better in the industry and learn more to better develop your own brand.

Leslie Kaczeus, Chief of Stuff/co-owner, Bootstrap Brewing — Longmont, Colorado

BREWER: How do you feel your job has had to adapt in the beer market compared to a few years ago?
We’ve grown substantially and as we’ve added more staff and increased our purchasing volume there’s been a tremendous addition to our daily workload. Coming from large high tech companies with thousands of employees and specialized departments, we have definitely learned how to do a lot of new things over the years.

BREWER: Who is your mentor in the industry and why? What have you learned from them?
KACZEUS: I have always admired Sierra Nevada, New Glarus and Odell’s for their extreme commitment to quality and employee retention.

Can you share a success story that you are proud of in your job or maybe a story of how you learned from a situation that has altered your thoughts on how you do your job now?

KACZEUS: We started small because we did what we could with what we had which is why we called ourselves Bootstrap. We opened in a 1 , 200  square foot space with a 3.5 BBL brewhouse and  two fermenters that we funded on a HELOC (Home Equity Line Of Credit) . Over the years, we continued to expand and add more space and equipment every year as we could afford to do so. This year, we’re celebrating our seventh year anniversary, have  two locations with 20,000 square feet and will produce about 8,000 BBLs. We’re pretty proud of what we have done over the years.

BREWER: Can you touch on something your brewery has added lately that’s unique or making your business more successful (it could be equipment, technology or people)?
KACZEUS: We continue to prioritize quality and consistency first which sometimes means that we may pay a premium price for an ingredient that is difficult to source. It’s not ideal from a cost of goods standpoint but the right thing to do so that our customers taste the same product whether it’s from a can they bought at a liquor store, on draft at a restaurant or fresh out of our taproom.

If you had one business strategy that you could implement to better the brewing industry, what would it be?
KACZEUS: Tax relief from excise taxes and the personal property taxes we pay for owning expensive manufacturing equipment. Brewers don’t make a big profit to begin with and both of these are additional penalties that aren’t imposed on other businesses and industries.

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